As part of my training in GIM I am both required and blessed to be required to attend my own personal sessions. As much as I believe in this method and as many lives as I’ve seen it change, I’m even more awed when I experience it myself and it takes my faith to a new level. Again, my cup overflows with the chance to work with a clinician that has extensive experience, and I get to see every piece of how the protocol weaves its subtle, yet powerful web. The intricacy of choosing the right music program is essential. How does she do it? Wait a minute, I do it, how do I do it? It’s so very different to be in the other chair. I can’t speak to what happens in her process but I can tell what I do. I try to listen between the lines. What is NOT being said, what is the energy of the struggle and where’s the charge in what’s being shared? I know from being a client myself, and simply being on the planet, that everyone doesn’t tell everyone else everything, and especially not in therapy! I try to sense this and then I ask my gut. Somehow, a decision is made.
When I came to my most recent session my head was spinning with all the balls I have in the air. Trying to unpack a new home, find my way around in a new town, get a new business off the ground, did someone feed the cats? I wasn’t sure what needed my attention. I shared, she took notes. She commented, I made a face and paused. At some point we move forward into the music with the first image of a fetus trying to get out and the intention of allowing my inner child and adult to dialogue. Instantly I am struck by the beauty of the music. GIM has made me love music again (there have been periods in my life where I’ve just wanted to be done with it) and the power it has to move people. The idea of this flashes through me and I’m transported to the place where I learned to love music in a new way, Interlochen Arts Academy, where I went to boarding high school, in Northern MI. I found myself seeing the stage that we performed on frequently in Corson auditorium and remembering the feeling that everything was ok in the moments there. I saw a lot of trees and the small town feeling of the place, and then it hit me, this place looks like Redlands! Well, sort of. Minus the snow. In many ways, it feels and appears similarly to me. More memories and senses of what I discovered there: How to be on my own for the first time (what do you mean I have to do my own laundry?) How to survive when all of your luggage gets lost (turns out I over packed and the bags were in the damaged section at LAX, but that took weeks to discover). Again, I realized there was a strong parallel. In my new home I haven’t known where anything is, including my clothes, and I’ve made do, I’ve adjusted, I’ve felt uncomfortable and sighed a lot, and what I wear has lost some priority. We had a uniform code at Interlochen. I’d never experienced that, and I thrived. I thrived in all of the structure there, which was the first I’d experienced in my life. The other overwhelming theme was the way the music enveloped me, surrounded and held me, in a way I’d never felt before. There were two choirs and I sang in both. I remember being furious and ego broken when I was made to sing Alto II because of my chesty voice. What a blessing! I learned about supporting and integral harmonies. I came to love singing Alto and had trouble returning to my post as a first Soprano later in life because singing the melody all of the time is boring and predictable. I felt like I lived in a choir experience, literally and figuratively. I spent so many hours there, but also, I felt lifted. Having come from no religious or spiritual background at all I was surprised that I enjoyed singing Requiems and Hymns and Glorias. I can remember telling myself it was ok with me to sing praises to God, the words were just words, and the experience of 4 parts, or 8, or more, was a heaven on earth. Besides, most of it was in Latin so there you go I turned 16 at Interlochen. I saw my first snowflake there and found myself very comfortable in a church. I excelled at work service in the kitchen and took on this thing called classical music and opera until I became damn good at it. I left with accolades, awards and scholarships. I left in 1988 (dating myself here) loving choral music because it was a healing experience, what I now know to be a spiritual awakening in my life, that set me on a path I couldn’t even have imagined. All this in the first piece of music.
And then the second piece came on. How can this be? I know this. I’ve sung this, yes, I’ve sung this AT Interlochen, where I am in my travel (this is where I begin to wonder if my GIM therapist is either secretly drugging me or has been spying on me for 30 years?). It takes me a minute, but I finally know what it is. The Brahms Requiem (1st movement). I sing along (the Alto part, thank you very much). Then I remember what it’s about, why it was special, and how we were ministered to by the conductor. In fact, I jump ahead several years to when I sang it again as an adult after college in the Angeles Chorale, with that conductor’s mentor (whom I’d sought out after hearing about him for so long). I remember what they both said, which was handed down from one to the other, and to us. We were told how Brahms was suffering with grief, over his mother and the loss of a close composer friend (Schuman I believe?) and how he wrote this piece as an offering of peace. He decided that those who suffered were blessed because they would find and bring peace to others. He decided that those who die are blessed because they will find rest. He was a revolutionary. We sang it in English (the latter performance I think) because the words were SO important. No one sings German Requiems in English, but we did. We were told we had the responsibility to bring a mission. A mission of peace, and we could not fail.
Some of this I remembered in more detail as I listened to the music after my session, which speaks to how powerful it is and how lasting the experience is outside of the session itself. The parallels with this time in my life were overwhelming. I am bringing a message of HOPE to others with my work, with this work, and it does indeed feel like a heavy mission sometimes. In other moments I’m just in the quiet waiting and witnessing of others’ process. I’m awed and delighted that Spirit has chosen to use me this way, and I don’t miss the irony in that, or the awakenings as they come now. I’m 45, not 16, so time and life have changed me. I still left Interlochen determined to be a rock star (to my Opera teacher’s deep dismay). I really thought I knew it all back then, what teen ager doesn’t? Now I know that know very little. The more I learn, the more I know what I don’t know. Even my work as a GIM Therapist is an experience of learning in the moment with the client.
I left this session with several important pieces in my own personal journey, including the awareness of the parallels in this leap of faith time in my life. It is that, the biggest one in a while, and it warrants recognition and patience to the adjustment. I need to find ways to again be held, be it in a room with a recording of the Brahms Requiem or in any variety of spiritually enriching experiences where I am fed, because carrying on with a mission can be draining. I had an image of the mouth of a beaker and liquid just on the brink of pouring out. It is a balancing act sometimes being a helper. My Music Therapy professor drilled into us the importance of knowing we were all just wounded healers, not magicians and not perfect people. He stressed the vital need for doing our own work. I’m honored to do it, although it is in itself draining sometimes. The other awareness that has been coming in many of my travels has to do with being on the outside looking in, and that opens many more questions than answers and feelings, moments and ahas that are difficult to sit with. Ignorance is bliss? Not so sure I buy that completely, although I’ve chosen it on occasion. My father and I shared the love of an anonymous poem called “RISK.” I had it written by a calligrapher for him as a gift one year, recently getting it back when he passed. RISK says this:
But risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, and is nothing.
They may avoid suffering and sorrow, but they cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live. Chained by their certitudes, they are a slave: they have forfeited their freedom.
Only a person who risks is truly free.
I think of my dad because he initially took me to Interlochen, and later in his life he moved to Oregon (despite criticism) to follow his dream of becoming a writer and finding peace. He eventually did both of those things and I believe that it is with his blessing and help that I am able to open HOPE GIM Studio. I salute you tonight, trailblazers, brave men, my dad and Johannes Brahms. The irony is again not lost on me, my father passing just over a year ago, did HE chose the music ? ;0)